The Celtic Manor Resort

The Celtic Manor ResortOpened in 1999 on a 1,400-acre estate rich with scenery and history, the Forum Health Club and Spa capped development of the most complete resort in Wales. Combining exceptional golf, leisure, and convention facilities, the Celtic Manor Resort includes a 400-room hotel and three championship golf courses.

Crossing the Severn estuary on a dramatic new bridge, you can’t miss the Manor. An in-your-face newly built megalith dominating the M-4 motorway, the resort is all about thinking big. Canadian telecommunications tycoon Terry Matthews invited golf course designer Robert Trent Jones Sr.—both were born in Wales—to launch the project in 1995. At the resort’s center is a refurbished nineteenth-century manor house. Set into a hillside, the hotel’s soaring central atrium links three wings of bedrooms to the spa and leisure club, and to a high-tech convention center.

The Forum Health Club and Spa surpasses many European resorts. Taking up most of the hotel’s lower floor are a 20-meter swimming pool, fifty-person whirlpool with underwater sound and light beneath a constellation of fiber-optic stars, and luxurious changing rooms with sauna and steam room, plunge pool, and whirlpool. The sixteen therapy rooms are spacious and well-equipped for a range of treatments by Clarins, Elemis, and Guinot, including sports massage and skin care for men. Perhaps the most interesting feature is the spa’s rasul chamber, where mud-caked guests socialize as they steam out impurities under a star-studded dome.

Spacious and elegantly appointed, the Forum’s wide corridors, high ceilings, and light-filled exercise studios are a pleasant environment, even when the weather isn’t. The fifty-four-station gym allows you to watch TV or enjoy music while you work out on cross-trainers, steppers, bikes, rowers, free weights, and treadmills. Personal trainers are on hand, and scheduled sessions of yoga and aerobics are held in a wood-floored studio. The gym also offers fitness assessment and counseling packages from Fitech. Kids up to age fifteen have their own Hideaway Club, with gym, swimming pool, whirlpool, computer, and cinema. Taking care of the entire family are an Aveda concept hair salon, run by local-TV celeb Philip Mungeam, and a spa cafe.

Accommodations: 400 luxury rooms, thirty-two suites in contemporary hotel, most with balcony. All have private bath and shower, air-conditioning, speaker phone with voice mail, desk with fax modem and dual voltage power, CD player, TV. Amenities include hair dryer, trouser press, iron and board, tea- and coffeemakers, robe, toiletries. Library lounge.

Meals: A la carte menu in two restaurants and spa cafe. Also available at golf clubhouse, conservatory and terrace, games room and library, and piano bar.

Facilities: Two indoor swimming pools and whirlpools, sixteen treatment rooms including hydrotherapy, dry flotation bed, rasul chamber, two fitness centers with cardiovascular and strength equipment, aerobics/dance studios, men’s and women’s changing rooms with sauna/steam rooms, plunge pool. Hideaway Club for kids. Admission is free to hotel guests.

Services & Special Programs: Skin care, facials, massage, G5 machine massage, body wrap, aromatherapy, Cathiodermie, hair and nail care; jet shower, hydrotherapy tubs. Fitness evaluation, personal trainers.

Best Spa Package: Elemis aromatherapy, top-to-toe, two-hour treatment for $80, plus gratuity. Spa Energizer package with room, treatments, meals for two, $416-$603 daily (three-night minimum).

What’s Nearby: Cardiff Bay, Wentwood Forest, Caernarfon Castle, Tintern Abbey.